Here at The Lewis Group of Companies we have many job fairs, usually located at one of our large apartment communities in the area. When we have multiple open positions at Lewis Careers, or many openings for one position, a job fair is a great way for us to meet a lot of candidates in a short of amount of time. If you’re looking for a job and you see a job fair posting on the web, in a newspaper, or wherever, what should you do?
Step #1: Go to Job Fairs
Go to job fairs. Go to as many as you can. They are a great way to get a face-to-face encounter with the employer without doing a ton of work and without doing everything over an email or over the Internet. If you are currently employed, and you’re concerned about seeing your employer at a job fair, don’t worry but do be a bit careful. In most cases, you can check the employers that will be attending the job fair ahead of time. You probably want to steer clear of your own company when you’re looking for a new position. Also, the majority of job fairs do not charge applicants money so be wary of any job fair that wants your cash. Employers are the ones who pay hundreds of dollars to attend, not you. If you’re an upcoming college graduate or even alumni, check out your university’s schedule of career fairs and definitely attend those when you can.
Step #2: Have a Plan
Don’t just wake up, throw on some jeans, hit the job fair, then go home and return to your Xbox game while you wait for your phone to ring—because that won’t work! Have a plan of attack. Know which employers at the job fair interest you, where their jobs will be located, and which employers have positions that match your skill set. Do a little research online about the company and the positions available to be sure the position/s will be attractive to you. Most job fairs list the companies that will attend on their website, and those companies in turn will list the positions they are recruiting for. Most importantly, know your strengths and be realistic. Imagine you’re a Recruiter, what would you seriously hire you to do? What concrete skills and work experience do you have? Combine those real skills with what interests you. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me they were a “quick learner,” I’d be a rich man. Most jobs and companies don’t hire promises, and they don’t want quick learners. They want people who have some applicable previous experience and who can hit the ground running. My 8-year old is a quick learner, but I wouldn’t hire him to do my taxes—I’d hire him to empty my dishwasher because he’s done that chore before, and he owns it!
Step #3: Polish Up Your Resume
Update your resume and focus your resume on the particular job you want. There’s no problem tweaking your resume to appeal to a certain employer. Consider preparing multiple resumes, one for each different position that you want. Pinpoint your job search and present yourself as an appealing candidate to different employers. Looking for a sales job? Then have one resume that highlights your sales numbers, commission heights, etc. Do you want a management job? Have a resume that showcases your staff supervision, team-building, etc. Again, there’s no problem bringing a few different types of resumes, so you can pique the interest of multiple employers.
Step #4: Look Fantastic
On the day of the job fair, look your best. Look professional. Wear a suit, wear a tie, or wear a blazer. You know the look I’m describing; so do it. Trust me, you’ll look better than most people at a job fair if you follow this one simple rule. Dress nice. If the job fair goes from 9am to 2pm, it’s okay to arrive at 10am. You don’t have to be the first one there, showing up at 6am and waiting in long lines in the sun, getting sweaty and wrinkling your clothes. This isn’t Walmart the day after Thanksgiving. Employers will be there all day.
Step #5: Make a Good First Impression
First go to those employers you’ve already researched and you’re most interested in. Know what they are hiring for, and be ready for that first introduction. Smile. Be professional. Show your personality. Realize that the employers have been standing there all day meeting many people, and you’re just one of many. Try to stand out in any way you can. I’m not saying be a freak. I’m just saying smile and be professional. Maybe say a little something that you noticed on their website or a little bit about their company. Do not ask the employer, “What type of jobs do you have?” You should already know that answer.
I know from experience that most candidates at a job fair walk up to a table with a dopey look and they say, “So what are you guys hiring for?” Don’t be that person. Be the knowledgeable candidate who already knows what the company needs and is ready to talk about how they fit that need. Bringing a notepad or a tablet to take notes is also a plus.
Basically, be smart. Be friendly. Be prepared. And be ready to match your skills to the open job. Remember in high school or college when you heard that the guy or girl you liked was going to the same party you were? Well, you showed up prepared, didn’t you? You changed outfits five times, you were looking good, you knew his/her name, you knew a little about them and you were ready to talk about all the cool things you had in common. DO THAT! Consider trying something like this “Hi. I’m David, and I researched online that you’re looking for leasing consultants with a background in sales. That definitely fits my experience. Can you tell me more about it?” Then listen and be ready to provide a resume. Be prepared to describe how your skills and experience match that job.
For every one sharp candidate, there are 10 people who stroll into a job fair, walk up to my Lewis Careers table, the same table with a big big banner that says Lewis Apartment Communities on it, pick up a brochure that says Lewis Apartment Communities, stare at my banner, thumb through my brochure, then look up and ask, “What do you guys do?” Now that kind of candidate makes me want to take an early lunch.
Step #6: Follow-up
Ask for the Recruiter’s business card. Shake their hand. Then let them know that you are looking forward to hearing back from them and that you will follow up in a day with a short email. Trust me, if the recruiter likes you, they will contact you.
Step #7: Do It Again
After you’ve visited the employers you researched, walk around and check out the other employers to see what they have to offer. The same rules apply: be professional, be smart, be friendly. These simple little things will improve your chances of nailing the job you want.
Now, go find a job fair. Follow these rules, and like my 8-year old, OWN IT. Best of luck to you!
David Draper is the Director of Talent Acquisition for the Lewis Group of Companies. David is proud to be a part of a successful, stable, and winning team dedicated to its projects, its people and its community. Follow David on Twitter @LewisRecruits.